Special thanks went out to all the Veterans of Foreign War posts, teachers, parents and students who participated in the VFW District 12 Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy essay contests, delivered by the program’s chairman, David Harris. Finalists from VFW posts all around Tampa Bay were represented, including 8108 in Riverview, 10140 and 4321 from Tampa, 4283 in Dade City, and 6287 in Ruskin.
“The VFW Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen programs prepare our youth for the future,” said Harris. “It encourages young people to voice their opinion, and we benefit from hearing what they’re thinking.”
Louisina Moraney from Riverview Post 8108 took first place in the Patriot’s Pen contest, while Peter Chan of Post 4321 in Tampa won first place in the Voice of Democracy competition. The first-place winner for Voice of Democracy received a $300 award, second place $200, and third place $100. First place for Patriot’s Pen received $250, second place $150, and third place received $100. The first-place winners from District 12 will now move on to compete at the state level.
Contestants showed remarkable perception in their essays that centered on American ideals and principles. Winners of the contest were honored at an awards ceremony and luncheon held Jan. 9 at the Ruskin VFW Post 6287, and was attended by local students, parents, VFW and Auxillary members.
Guest speaker Lian Blackwelder, who holds a master’s degree from the University of South Florida in chemical engineering and works as an engineer at the Mosaic Company’s Riverview facility, stressed the importance of a college education in pursuing a career. Also in attendance was District Commander Tony Gardner, District President Karen Manzone, and District 12 Auxiliary Chairman Norrine Forrest.
“We need to give special thanks to the parents of these students, and to their teachers who have given them the skills and confidence to compete,” said Harris. “We also need to recognize the hard work of our VFW posts that run the local competitions. Without them, we wouldn’t have a program.”
The first-place essay winners will compete at the convention in Orlando, with first prize being $2,500 for Voice of Democracy and $1,500 for Patriot’s Pen. State winners will compete for up to $30,000 at the national level and will have an all-expense-paid trip for themselves and their families to Washington, D.C.
Established by the VFW in 1947, the Voice of Democracy contest accepts essays from nearly 40,000 American high school students who enter for a chance to win a share of the $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives that are awarded. The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to his/her American university, college or vocational school. Other scholarships, ranging from $1,000 to $16,000, are also awarded.
Finalists in the District 12 Voice of Democracy essay contest included Peter Chan, Richard Scilabro, David Kirk, Valerie Marshiselle, Sarah Gimbel, Caslyn Sylva, Henry Tillman and Joshua Rudaitis.
Finalists in the District 12 Patriot’s Pen essay contest included Louisina Moraney, Nicolas Sarji, N’Jhari Jacksom, Alexa Martinez, Joshua Lassey, Aidan Hartsfield, Cameron Royal and Sankota Bentzo.
To read Peter Chan’s award-winning Voice of Democracy essay, visit https://www.observernews.net/2016/01/13/my-vision-for-america/
For more information on the VFW national and local contests, visit www.vfw.org.